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January 26, 1961
Today President Kennedy appointed Dr. Janet Travell as his personal physician making her the 1st woman in history to hold that position.
Dr. Travell, age 59, is a graduate of Wellesley College.  She established a reputation in her medical practice in the treatment of chronic muscular pain.
She is an orthopedist & has worked with JFK for the past five years.  She has prescribed medications & varieties of treatment including orthopedic shoes, a back brace & use of rocking chairs to relieve Mr. Kennedy’s back pain.

January 26, 1838
Today the legislature of the state of Tennessee enacted the 1st law in the United States making it illegal to sell alcoholic beverages in taverns or stores.
The law states that all persons convicted of retailing “spirituous liquors” will be fined at the court’s “discretion” & that fines will be used to finance the state’s public schools.
The 1st temperance societies in Tennessee were founded in Kingsport & Nashville in 1829 just 3 years after the American Temperance Society had been established by Marcus Morton in Massachusetts.
January 26, 1808
Today the governor of New South Wales, William Bligh, was arrested by Major George Johnson & the New South Wales Corps under his command.
                                 Governor William Bligh
The Governor has made many enemies among the most influential families in the colony.  He also has made controversial rulings such as the banning of the use of spirits in payment for goods.*
*The revolt will be the only successful armed takeover of government in Australia’s history.  Because of Governor Bligh’s ruling on spirits, historians will call it “The Rum Rebellion”. 
Bligh, who was found hiding under his bed,  will be held in custody for a year refusing to go back to England until he is officially relieved.  The colony remained under martial law until General Lachlan Macquarie arrived as the new governor in 1810. 
Major Johnson went under court martial for mutiny, was found guilty, but received a light sentence.  He was able to return to his Sydney home as a free citizen.  The NSW Corps, however, was disbanded.
January 26, 1788
17 years after the discovery of the continent by James Cook, Captain Arthur Phillip has arrived in Port Jackson (Sydney Cove) & Botany Bay with the 1st convicts banished from EnglandThe fleet of 11 ships has been at sea for  8 months.

New South Wales has been planned as a penal colony & Captain Phillip has been directed to establish an agricultural work camp for British convicts.

Before leaving England, Captain Phillip declared:  “In a new country there will be no slavery and hence no slaves.”
Governor Lachlan Macquarie will make the 30th anniversary of this day a public holiday in 1818.  It will be celebrated by the firing of 30 guns.

In 1937, the celebration will include the 1st Sydney Regatta.  In 1988, the Bicentenary Celebration will see the arrival of Tall Ships from around the world & the 1st re-enactment of the landing of the fleet.

                          Governor Lachlan Macquarie
January 26, 2011 “AUSTRALIA DAY” has been celebrated. (At the time of this post, it is 4:30 a.m. January 27 in New South Wales).  

I want to thank all the Australian visitors to my blog & hope you had a great day of celebration.  
My mum was born in Sydney in 1925 & came to the US to marry my dad who she met during WWII.  
I have visited Sydney twice in my life, the 1st time in 1981 with my wife & again in July 2010 with my daughter.  Australia is a fantastic country & her people are wonderful. 
Good wishes to all our relatives & friends “Down Under”.
Jennifer at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum & John & Jen in the Blue Mts.



January 25, 1961
Today JFK held his first meeting with the press as President of the United States.  What makes this press conference unique is that it is the 1st to be televised “live”.

The press conference was held in the State Department Auditorium.  JFK stepped to the podium & read a brief statement & then took questions from reporters who stood to be recognized by the President.

The podium was flanked by US & Presidential flags.  On the front of the speaker’s stand was the traditional Presidential Seal & still another huge Presidential Seal hung on the curtain above & behind JFK.

Here is just one of the questions & JFK’s response:

Mr. President: Do (you) plan to take any steps to solve the problem in Fayette County, Tennessee, where tenant farmers have been evicted from their homes because they voted last November, & must now live in tents?”

JFK:  “The Congress…enacted legislation which placed… responsibility on the Executive Branch to protect the right of voting. I supported that legislation. I am…interested in making sure that every American is given the right to cast his vote without prejudice to his rights as a citizen, & (we) will (provide) that protection, with all vigor.”*

JFK would hold a total 64 conferences during his Presidency.  9 out of 10 Americans watched at least one of his 1st three press conferences. The average number of viewers for all his televised conferences was 18 million.

*Courtesy JFK Library, Boston

January 25, 1964


Today “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, recorded by the British rock music group “The Beatles”, makes it to the top of the charts.

This recording, the 1st #1 hit by the group, is on the Capitol label.  The tune was written by group members John Lennon & Paul McCartney.  The other Beatles are George Harrison & Ringo Starr.

The recording was made at EMI Studios on October 17, 1963 on “4-Track” machines.  This was the 1st such recording ever made.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” was influenced by Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, who wanted John & Paul to write a song that would appeal to listeners in the United States.  

January 25, 1924

Today the 1st Winter Olympics opening ceremonies were held in Chamonix, France.  The ceremonies at the Alpine Village were directed by Gaston Vidal, the French Undersecretary of State for Physical Education.

There were 5000 people in the audience who saw 150 skaters take to the ice as the national anthems of the participating nations were played.

By the time the Winter Olympics are over, the US & Great Britain will win 4 medals each.  Canada will win a GOLD medal by defeating the US in the finals of hockey by a score of 6-1.  

Finland & Norway were dominant in the games as they would go on to  win 28 of the 43 medals awarded.

January 25, 1915

Today Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated transcontinental telephone service in the United States.

Bell was in New York City while his former assistant Thomas Watson was in San Francisco.  Two other participants were Theodore Vale, AT&T president who was in Jekyll Island, Georgia & President Woodrow Wilson at the White House.



January 24, 2011

Today’s JFK+50 post honors JFK’s own hero: Winston Churchill

January 24, 1965


Sir Winston Churchill, son of Lord Randolph Churchill & Jennie Jerome Churchill, died today at his home at Hyde Park Gate in London.  

He is survived by his wife, Lady Clementine Churchill, who was at his side at the time of death.

The body will lie in state for 3 days in Westminster Hall.  This honor has not been granted to any English statesman since 1898.  The funeral service is scheduled to take place at St. Paul’s cathedral.

The former Prime Minister will be buried at the church of St. Martin’s located in Bladon, Oxfordshire.  Mr. Churchill chose the exact plot of burial because it has an unobstructed view of the window where he was born in 1874.

He was educated at Harrow & Sandhurst where his best subject was history.

Winston Churchill became PM in May 1940.  At a time when Hitler’s armies had taken most of Europe, he said:  “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears & sweat.”  He used the line in six different speeches between 1940 & 1942.

In the process of leading his nation to victory, Churchill said:

“We shall not flag or fail.  We shall go on to the end….we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be we shall never surrender.”

Mr. Churchill viewed the United States (his mother was born in New York City) & Great Britain as closely linked. He visited the U.S. 16 times between 1895 & 1961.

In 1930, he attended his 1st American football game at Columbia.  He said:  “Actually, it is somewhat like rugby, but why do you have to have all those committee meetings?”

During a visit to New York in 1931, he checked in to the Plaza Hotel.  A call came to his room from the front desk asking if anything was needed.  He pretended to be his own valet & said:

“Mr. Churchill is a man of simple tastes; he is quite easily satisfied with the best of everything.”

An unfortunate accident occurred when Mr. Churchill exited a taxi & was proceeding across 5th Avenue.  Accustomed to looking the other direction in London, he was hit by a car & was in hospital for 8 days.

In 1943, FDR took the PM on a drive while Churchill recited from memory John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Barbara Frietchie”.

Also, in 1943, Winston Churchill was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard.

In 1962, when Mr. Churchill was recovering from injuries he suffered in Monte Carlo,  President Kennedy sent him the following telegram:

July 6, 1962

“Dear Sir Winston:

We have been encouraged by the reports of the progress you have made and heartened again by your display of indomitable courage in the face of adversity.  The wishes of all our peoples as well as those of Mrs. Kennedy & I go to you.
President John F. Kennedy”

By Proclamation 3525, JFK made WSC an honorary American citizen:

“Whereas Sir Winston Churchill, a son of America though a subject of Britain, has been throughout his life a firm and steadfast friend of the American people and the American nation…I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America do hereby declare Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States…”

April 9, 1963

Mr. Churchill’s response:

“I have received many kindnesses from the U.S.A. but the honour which you now accord me is without parallel.  I accept it with deep gratitude & affection.”

In coverage of  Mr. Churchill’s death, The New York Times wrote:

“He drank wine for breakfast….and champagne and brandy and whiskey…throughout the rest of the day.  He smoked cigars continuously.  He never exercised. And his health was amazing.”

Following are my favorite Winston Churchill quotes & stories:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing…..after they’ve tried everything else.”

“It has been said democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.”

Nancy Astor once told Winston Churchill that if she were married to him she would put poison in his tea.  

He responded:  ‘Madam, if I were married to you….I would drink it!”

Bessie Braddock once said to Mr. Churchill: “Sir, you are drunk!”  

He answered:  “Madam, you are ugly!  In the morning, I shall be sober.”

At Westminster Hall, 321,360 people filed past Winston Churchill’s casket which was draped with the Union flag.


January 23, 1968


The American intelligence-gathering ship, USS Pueblo, has been captured today by North Korea.  

This action, under protest by the US, is allegedly because the ship was in violation of North Korean waters & in the process of an espionage mission.

In December 1968, the Pueblo’s commander, Captain Lloyd Bucher, will sign a confession & his ship will be returned to the United States. 

January 23, 1973


President Nixon announced today that his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, & North Vietnamese envoy, Le Duc Tho, have agreed to “end the war & bring peace with honor…”

This settlement, known as “The Paris Peace Accords”, sets January 27, 1973, 7 pm (EST) for a “cease-fire” to begin.

All POWs are to be released & all American & foreign troops are to be removed in 60 days.

January 23, 1957


Today the Wham-O Toy Company introduces the Frisbee.  The toy’s name comes from the Frisbie Pie Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut (1871). 

College students enjoyed throwing empty pie tins at one another & they would yell “Frisbie”. * 

*The “modern” Frisbee disc will be patented by Wham-O in December 1967 & will sell over 100 million by 1977

January 23, 1920


Today the government of the Netherlands refused to extradite the former leader of Germany during the recent world war, Wilhelm II.

The Kaiser will remain in Doorn where his son, Joachim, will later commit suicide.  In his memoirs, Wilhelm will deny any guilt in promoting the start of the war.

January 23, 1941


Charles A. Lindbergh who made the 1st solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that, in his view, the United States should negotiate with Adolf Hitler.

In addition, “Lucky Lindy” also was critical of FDR’s Lend Lease program to assist the allies in the war against Germany.*

*Despite his stand almost a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lindbergh will fly 50 combat missions over the Pacific during WWII.

January 23, 1775


Today merchants in London petition Parliament for relief from the hardships that have resulted from the government’s policies restricting trade with the American colonies.  

The merchants want the mercantile system of trade which existed before 1764 reinstated by the Parliament.

January 23, 1571


Queen Elizabeth I today officially opened the British Royal Exchange. 

The Exchange was founded in 1565 by Sir Thomas Gresham to act as a center of commerce for the city of London.

The weather vane atop the Exchange represents the founder’s family crest:  The grasshopper.  


January 22, 1973

LBJ Dies in Johnson City, Texas
The 36th President of the United States died today at the age of 64 in Johnson City, Texas.  The cause of death was heart disease.  LBJ had a history of heart issues since 1955. 

LBJ was pronounced dead at 4:33 p.m. (CST).
“Although his vision of a Great Society dissolved in the morass of war in Vietnam, Mr. Johnson left….a legacy of progress….in civil rights, social security, education (and) housing….attesting to his….affection for his fellow Americans.”*
*The New York Times, 1/23/1973

                      LBJ Gravesite
                         LBJ Ranch
January 22, 1973
Supreme Court Rules in Roe v Wade
The United States Supreme Court today rules that abortion is legal.  Abortion became a major crime in the years 1860 to 1880 with the influence of the American Medical Association.
By the turn of the century, most states prohibited abortion by legal statute but these laws were seldom enforced.
January 22, 1982
President Reagan Links Arms Talks To Poland
With arms negotiations ongoing with the Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan today linked the potential success or failure of the talks with the USSR’s policy in Poland.
In late 1981, the Soviet Union imposed martial law in an attempt to destroy the growing Solidarity movement in Poland’s labor unions.
The President said:
“The continuing repression of the Polish people….obviously constitutes a major setback to the prospect of constructive East-West relations.”
The intermediate-range nuclear forces agreement would not be agreed upon until 1987 when a new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, came to power. 

January 22, 1840
British Colonists Arrive in New Zealand
British colonists led by Edward G. Wakefield arrived today in Port Nicholson on Auckland Island.   New Zealand is named after the Dutch province of Zealand.

The 1st permanent settlement will be made at Wellington.  By the Treaty of Waitangi, the Maori peoples of the islands will recognize British sovereignty.

New Zealand will become part of the Australian colony of New South Wales in 1841 but in 1852 will become self-governing.  

Full independence will be granted to New Zealand in 1931 but not ratified until 1947.

January 22, 1901
Today Queen Victoria’s 63 year reign, the longest in British history, has come to an end.  The only daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, she became Queen at the age of 18 with the death of her uncle, King George IV, in 1837.
The Queen reigned during Britain’s industrial age which saw the power & influence of the nation grow.  She has 37 surviving great grand-children.  Her husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861 at the age of 42.  Thereafter Queen Victoria always wore black.

            Queen Victoria Statue
          Sydney, NSW Australia
      Photo by John White (2010)
During the Crimean War, Queen Victoria visited her troops when things were not going well for them. 
She said:
“We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat, they do not exist.”  

         Queen Victoria Statue at QVB
              Sydney, NSW, Australia
          Photo by John White (2010)


January 21, 1950
A former official in the US State Department, Alger Hiss, is convicted of perjury.  Hiss was found guilty in his 2nd trial of lying about his involvement in a Soviet spy ring.  

Hiss was not tried for treason because at the time of the trial the statute of limitations had expired for a treason charge.
Hiss had been accused by Whittaker Chambers before the House Un-American Activities Committee of passing top secret information to him.  

Although Hiss denied the charge, Chambers produced copies of the documents that had been hidden in a pumpkin (the “pumpkin papers”)

 Congressman Richard Nixon of California was a member of the HUAC.
January 21, 1968
The Battle of Khe Sanh begins. 

 The US Marine base, used to stage patrols & plan future efforts to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, is located 14 miles below the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) & 6 miles from Laos.
The siege will last 66 days with US planes dropping 5000 bombs each day.  In the end, both sides will claim victory.  

The battle results in 205 US Marines killed & 16,000 wounded.  The North Vietnamese Army loses more than 10,000.
 January 21, 1977
President Jimmy Carter pardons all civilians who failed to register for the Vietnam War draft or who had fled the US to avoid service.
This is President Carter’s 2nd day in office.  He interprets his action to be one of “forgiveness” rather than an official admission that US participation in the Vietnam War was wrong.
Carter’s pardon wipes out all criminal records.  It does not apply to military personnel who went AWOL during the war. 

January 21, 1793
King Louis XVI of France is executed by guillotine in Paris.  He was convicted of conspiring with foreign powers including Austria by the National Convention.  
His Queen, Marie Antoinette, was also arrested, imprisoned, & executed nine months later.
January 21, 1924
Vladimir Lenin dies in Moscow, USSR of a cerebral hemorrhage.  He was the leader of the Bolshevik movement that had resulted in the overthrow of the Russian czar in 1917.  The New York Times wrote that “Lenin’s death will unify and strengthen the Communist party.” 


January 20, 2011

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the INAUGURATION of JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY as the 35th President of the United States.

                    Associated Press Photo
“Washington had never seen anything like it:  the tidal wave of glamour, promise, and high spirits that descended on the capital for the 1961 inauguration of the youngest president ever elected, John F. Kennedy–a movable, star-studded bash that couldn’t be stopped even by a massive snowstorm.”*

*From Vanity Fair, “From That Day Forth”,  by Todd S. Purdum, February 2011.
January 20, 1961

Today John Fitzgerald Kennedy is sworn in as the 35th President of the United States as well as the youngest elected President in our history.

He is the 1st  president of Irish descent as both his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., are Irish-Americans.

To open the historic proceedings, Marian Anderson sings Our National Anthem.  JFK’s priest from Boston, Richard Cardinal Cushing, delivers the opening prayer.

It is also the 1st inaugural in which a poet is invited to participate.  Robert Frost recites “The Gift Outright”.

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.
And for this occasion, let me change that to: what she will become.

Chief Justice Earl Warren administers the oath of office.  The new president is sworn in using the Fitzgerald family Bible as Presidents Eisenhower & Truman & Vice-Presidents Nixon & Johnson look on.

JFK begins his Inaugural Address.

Following are some selected highlights:

“We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom — symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need — not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation,” a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.  My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

              JFK Inaugural Medal

I always told my students that in my view JFK’s inaugural address is the best of the 20th century. 

Todd Purdum, writing in  Vanity Fair, supports my view.  He writes:

“From Kennedy’s opening words to his last, the speech was one for the books, ranking, by broad consensus, with FDR’s first inaugural as the most stirring of the 20th century….”  

“And unlike some speeches whose greatness was appreciated only much later, Kennedy’s was widely seen as great from the moment he delivered it.”

*From Vanity Fair, “From That Day Forth”,  by Todd S. Purdum, February 2011.

Announcing JFK50.org

A new website celebrating the legacy of President John F. Kennedy
The flame still burns bright

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s inauguration, today the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has officially launched www.JFK50.org – an innovative multimedia website designed to reflect the vibrancy and excitement of the Kennedy administration.*

*Courtesy of JFK Library



January 19, 1961

Ike meets with JFK in the oval office.  Ike tells him that Laos is “the key to…Southeast Asia” &  military action may be required.

In April 1961, JFK sends a carrier task force to the Gulf of Siam but otherwise decides not to intervene.  

January 19, 1961

An Inaugural Gala is held at the National Armory in Washington, D.C.  Jacqueline Kennedy wears an “ivory double-faced silk satin” gown with cockade trim.  The dress establishes Mrs. Kennedy’s style on the eve of becoming First Lady.

The cockade expresses pride in her French ancestry & love of history.  During the revolution, Washington’s soldiers wore black cockades & French General Lafayette wore a black & white cockade.

                     Courtesy of JFK Library, Boston

January 19, 1764

The British Parliament expels John Wilkes for challenging the integrity of King George III in his newspaper, The North Briton.  Wilkes flees to France but returns in 1768.

Wilkes opposes the Townshend Acts which taxes British imports to the American colonies.  Although re-elected to Parliament, he is refused his seat. In the colonies, patriots cry out “Wilkes & Liberty!”

January 19,1807

Robert E. Lee is born in Westmoreland County, Virginia.  He will take command of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War in 1861.  Even though his side loses the war, Lee is considered the greatest general of the conflict.

January 19, 1809

Edgar Allan Poe is born in Boston, Massachusetts.  He moves to Philadelphia in 1838 where he writes horror stories including “The Fall of the House of Usher” & “The Tell-Tale Heart” as well as the mystery “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”. In 1844, Poe moves to New York City where he writes “The Raven”.  He dies in 1849 at the age of 40.

January 19, 1915

The 1st air raid in world history is carried out on Great Britain when bombs are dropped from German zeppelins.  The attacks are on the towns of Great Yarmouth & King’s Lynn.

January 19, 1966

Indira Gandhi becomes Prime Minister of India & the 1st woman to head the government.  She is the daughter of Jawaharial Nehru, the 1st Prime Minister of the Independent Republic of India.

 JFK welcomes Prime Minister Nehru to the US

In 1971, Indira Gandhi orders the invasion of Pakistan in support of the creation of Bangladesh.  On October 31, 1984 she is assassinated by members of her own bodyguard.

    Indira Gandhi visits Williamsburg, Virginia

NASM #216


January 18, 2011

R. Sargent Shriver, JFK’s Director of the Peace Corps as well as his brother-in-law, died today in Bethesda, Maryland.

Shriver, 95 years old , was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. He was the husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, who died in 2009 & the father of former NBC reporter Maria Shriver. 


           November 9, 1915  – January 18, 2011

January 18, 1963

NSAM (National Security Action Memorandum) #216 is issued.

This memorandum, signed by JFK’s adviser, McGeorge Bundy, says:

“The President requests a study be made by the Department of State, Defense & CIA of the arguments for and against: 
1. Disclosure to the Soviets of our satellite reconnaissance capability.
2. The maintenance in the hands of the American Ambassador in Moscow of suitable materials for such disclosure in the event of a crisis situation  in which there was ….a threat of nuclear war.”

It is likely, having come so close to nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, JFK is considering actions which might prevent such a scenario in the future.

January 18, 1950

The People’s Republic of China agrees to provide military aid to the Democratic Republic of (North) Vietnam.

January 18, 1958
Willie O’Ree becomes the 1st African-American to play in the National Hockey League. Born in New Brunswick,  O’Ree lost 95% of the vision in his right eye when he was struck by a puck before he reached the NHL.
O’Ree will score his 1st goal on January 1, 1961 vs. the Canadiens.  16 years will pass before the next African-American will play in the NHL. 

January 18, 1778
English explorer Captain James Cook becomes the 1st European to discover Hawaii. Two days later Cook will land on the island of Kauai & name the  group “The Sandwich Islands” after a sponsor, John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich.

JFK’s mother, Rose, told the story of how young Jack loved to read the book “Billy Whiskers” & that one day he asked her where the Sandwich Islands were located.  When she asked why he wanted to know, he said that was where Billy Whiskers had gone.

January 18, 1862
John Tyler, the 1st Vice-President of the United States to assume the Presidency on the death of a president, dies in Richmond, Virginia.
Tyler’s major achievement as President was adding Texas to the Union in 1845.
Tyler had been a delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention & was elected to serve in the congress of the Confederacy but died before he could take office.


January 18, 1912
British explorer Robert F. Scott arrives at the South Pole only to find a Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, had already been there a month.
Weather on the return trip turned bad leaving Scott & 2 of his companions trapped in their tent.  Their frozen bodies were found in March. 




January 17, 1961

President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his “Farewell Address” to the nation.  After serving as a career military officer & Commander & Chief of the US armed services, Ike sounds a warning.

The President speaks of the need for the development of a “permanent arms industry” during the Cold War but expresses concern about “the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought by the military-industrial complex.”

January 17, 1961

Patrice Lumumba, the 35 year old 1st democratic leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is assassinated.

Lumumba was outspoken against the “violence & humiliation” of colonialism.  After failure to get the Eisenhower administration to supply financial aid, he threatened to turn to the USSR.

He had also announced plans to unite the Congo by giving assistance to bordering nations still under European control.

Lumumba is captured, beaten & flown to the Katanga region in the southern Congo, where he is shot by a firing squad.

There has been discussion concerning the role of the CIA in this event.  The Church Committee (1975), however, will find no evidence of CIA involvement.  

Stephen R. Weissman, on the other hand, writes that he has classified documents which prove otherwise.  

Weissman believes US officials in the Eisenhower administration saw Lumumba as the “African Fidel Castro”.

CIA Director Allen Dulles writes:

“We conclude that (Lumumba’s) removal must be an urgent and prime objective”.

Belgian author Ludo De Witte believes Lumumba’s is “the most important assassination of the 20th Century” & that operatives of the Belgian government were behind the murder.

Lumumba’s successor, Joseph Mobutu, will rule the Congo for 30 years & in the process will “run the country into the depths of poverty”.

During his service as a Congressman & Senator, JFK was supportive of African liberation from colonial rule.  While some others believed revolutionaries were leftists, JFK felt they were nationalists & argued that Africa presented an opportunity for the West.   JFK admired Lumumba.

JFK’s photographer, Jacques Lowe, will be visiting the President on February 13, 1961 in the oval office when JFK receives a phone call from UN Ambassador Stevenson.  Lowe captures the photo below as JFK is told of the Lumumba assassination.

Lumumba wrote the following words to his wife:

“I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country.”

January 17, 1953

Three days before the 1st Eisenhower inauguration, General Motors debuts the “Corvette” at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.  The first production vehicle rolls off the Flint, Michigan assembly line on June 30, 1953.

January 17, 1945

The Soviet Army liberates the capital of Poland, Warsaw.  The Russians are led by General Georgi Zhukov.

Warsaw’s population of 1.3 million has been reduced to only 153,000 during WWII.

January 17, 1893

Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii is overthrown by American sugar planters led by Sanford Dole with the support of 300 US Marines from the USS Boston.  

Dole sets up a provisional government & submits a treaty of annexation to the United States.

President Cleveland will later send a new minister to restore the Queen but Dole will refuse to step aside.  He proclaims an independent republic with which President McKinley will sign a treaty in 1897.  

In 1899, the Hawaiian Islands will become a territory of the United States.

January 17, 1781

Patriot General Daniel Morgan’s forces defeat British troops under Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton at Cowpens, South Carolina.

Morgan ordered his riflemen to fire two volleys then set up in a new position to the rear.  The British believed this to be a retreat & marched into Morgan’s trap.

The American victory will help delay Lord Cornwallis’s march through the south & ultimately force his retreat to the coast. 



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